Asian Influence on Western Music

A Look Into The Blending of Musical Cultures by Morgan Vo

Black artists are immensely influential in the development of Western music through their contributions to several of the popular genres we listen to today. Shoutout to the greats, the OGs: Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin and many more! Today, I wanted to delve into if and how Asia has impacted popular Western music. 

At first glance, I see how Western music has affected music in Asia. For example, Korean pop (K-pop) music pulls a lot of their inspiration from EDM or R&B, but I couldn’t directly see, in this case hear, any influence from Asia in songs that I listen to, or know. Digging deeper, I found a GREAT example of Asian influence in mainstream music in Britney Spears’ iconic song “Toxic.” Arguably the most defining section of the song, it’s high-pitched string hook, is sampled from the hit eighties Bollywood musical, “Ek Duuje Ke Liye.” It seems that Asia is more impactful in mainstream music than expected.

Another example of Asian influence was the great sitar explosion in the 60s. The sitar is a plucked stringed instrument originating from India. Renowned sitar player Ravi Shankar influenced many bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Monkees, and especially The Beatles. According to a Los Angeles Times article by Benjamin Epstein, “Shankar’s instrumental prowess had been well established internationally before he met George Harrison in 1966, their meeting launched Indian music and culture into the forefront of pop consciousness in the West.” You can hear the sitar in songs like “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones and “Within You, Without You” by The Beatles which helped popularize its use in western music.

Asian cultural influence in music can be found long after the 1960’s, notably popping up in turn of the century hip hop music. American hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan blends Asian culture into their music. Their name alone stems from ancient chinese history. According to an article written on the medium “The word Wu-Tang originates from Wu Dang, the Taoist holy mountain located in Central China.” Also, many references to kung-fu can be heard in their debut album, “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).” The cultural fusion showcased on their debut album led to the group becoming a global sensation and changing the music industry from then on. Their album provided a new sound that people had not heard and were excited about.

Mainstream music today has influences from many cultures and countries. For example,  K-pop  has taken the world by storm, especially in America. BTS, a popular korean boy band, have become so big that they have collaborations with artists like Halsey and Sia, two popular singers with many songs that have topped the charts. K-pop has even made its way to popular music festivals. In 2019, K-pop sensation Blackpink was a huge-font, second-line act at Coachella. However, K-pop is not the only Asian influence you can find in Western, mainstream music. A record company and music coalition, 88 Rising, has many popular East Asian musicians under their belt that have become popular in Western music. Artists such as rapper Rich Brian and singer songwriters Joji and NIKI together have garnered over 500 million streams on Spotify. 88 Rising even curated their own musical festival in Los Angeles called Head in the Clouds, that hosted over 20,000 thousand fans. Artists from Asia continue to make an impression on popular music, creating sound loved by the world over.

In conclusion, Asian culture and influence can be clearly seen, and heard, throughout Western mainstream music. It is important to listen to music from all cultures and realize where and what they came from. I am excited to see new Asian artists emerge and witness how Asian artists influence music in the coming years. Here is a playlist that showcases Asian influence on Western music and Asian artists that I think are worth listening to! 

Cannabis Cuts Vol. 4 – Lady Buds

Welcome to the fourth installment of our bi-weekly Cannabis Cuts commentated playlist, a tribute and appreciation of the symbiotic relationship between music and Mary Jane. Due to the longstanding misrepresentation of women in the music industry, this week we’re highlighting exclusively 20 tracks that we think are exceptional due to the female forces behind them:

“Bam Bam,” One Two, Sister Nancy (1982)

KG: Probably the most iconic song in reggae/dancehall history, “Bam Bam” is the weed-smoking background music you expect to find when clicking on a playlist entitled “Cannabis Cuts.” But you don’t need weed to thrive, you’re here for good music and the opportunity to see me punk on Max in a public setting…and I support that. Regardless, “Bam Bam” has been sampled over 100 times by a variety of different artists in the hip-hop, reggae, and dancehall genres among others. It’s influence on modern music is incalculable.

MC: Didn’t think I’d be leading off with this, but it feels like a good time to mention that after the customary barrage of Kevin Gordon shittalking that preceded our tennis match yesterday, I dusted him 6-1. If anyone has any tennis serving tutorial videos that might aid him, please send a link to the email found on our contact page. On another note, this is one of the most joyous tracks to ever grace the ears of the masses. Most iconic reggae song ever? Highly debatable, but no doubt a feel-good classic. 

KG: Okay maybe I overlooked some Marley masterpieces, but the real masterpiece that wouldn’t exist without “Bam Bam” is Sean Paul’s “Temperature.” Dancehall music rejoices!

“Bad Girls,” Bad Girls, Donna Summer (1979)

KG: Donna Summer, the late-great Queen of Disco, had already been a staple of the dance music scene long before she released her magnum opus album Bad Girls in 1979. Beginning her career as the lead vocalist for a psychedelic rock band called Crow during the counterculture era, Summer was able to slowly transition to dance music upon meeting electronic music pioneer and all around badass Giorgio Moroder (Max and I revere him). Following a slew of banger chart-topping disco releases, including one of my mom’s favorite albums, A Love Trilogy, Summer was poised to release Bad Girls to widespread commercial and critical success. And she was right. The title track “Bad Girls” is a timeless disco classic meant to get you off your feet and grooving all night long, highlighted by the glowing horns and hypnotic guitar line that surround Summer’s magnificent voice. You won’t be able to sit down when you listen to this song.

MC: Both an anthem and dancefloor burner of the highest caliber, this duo was disco’s Jordan and Pippen.

“Gonna Get Over You,” 12” Single, France Joli (1981)

MC: After graduating college, striking out on jobs, and then having the job market hit by a pandemic, I’ve assumed the highly-heralded position of Door Dash Driver to maintain some cash flow. One of the personal perks of the job for me is that I perpetually get to listen to music while I deliver people’s Chipotle orders, which leads to me listening to all sorts of albums and SoundCloud mixes. The other day, right in the heat of making sure Noah from Vista received his VeggieGrill order on time, this track careened into my ear drums in the midst of this mix by disco extraordinaire Dimitri From Paris. I was enthralled. I subsequently found out that France Joli was a Montreal disco singer who dropped this gem when she was only 18 years old. The song has all the characteristics of the most timeless disco tracks: downright funky, chicken-scratch guitar riffing, a big-time bassline, soaring strings, triumphant horns, and damn groovy disco break. Joli is the glue that holds it all together, with a soulful and dynamic performance. Anyone who says disco sucks is: 1. Probably a self-serious asshole, and 2. Hasn’t heard this gem.

KG: I really hope Noah got his food on-time because it sounds like you were far more interested in listening to this song than getting the man his VeggieGrill delivery as fast as possible. That’s 3-stars right off the bat. And no napkins, are you serious? I am also a total self-serious asshole, but I really like disco! Anyway, this song is fucking sick and goes to show that there is no age threshold for making great music. 

MC: My 5.00 customer rating over the course of 84 deliveries is unfuckwithable despite my 85% on-time rate, sometimes navigating apartment complexes is hard. 

“Forget Me Nots,” Straight From The Heart, Patrice Rushen (1982)

KG: I make it a point to note whenever Spotify’s clunky music recommendation algorithm actually gets it right and suggests a gem of a song, and this is one of those instances. Initially labeled as a flop due to the drastic change in style from artist Patrice Rushen’s traditional jazz roots, “Forget Me Nots” is a killer post-disco track showcasing an earworm of a bassline that dances around the beat in memorable fashion. Rushen’s pleasant but powerful voice is captivating throughout the song, moments of soft and sweet projections are juxtaposed with belting high notes that knock your socks off. Also a huge fan of the sparkly synth sound that looms in the background of this track, it reminds me of the glittery jazz tones found on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly many years later.

“Power,” Laila’s Wisdom, Rapsody, (2017)

MC: Over an absolutely hammer beat, North Carolina rapper Rapsody rips off line after line and bar after bar of insight about what tangible and intangible things seem to hold power in modern culture. It’s densely filled to the brim with allusions to OutKast, Jerry Stackhouse, Steph Curry, Eminem and Magic Johnson, with a dead-eyed flow and precision. Kendrick Lamar hops on the track and proceeds to scorch the thing, but doesn’t blow Rapsody out of the water by any means. It’s a true testament to her abilities as an MC to hold her own against rap’s current king, and proves that she should be getting discussed a lot more in rap circles than she has been over the past few years.

KG: Stack has a 50-piece?? This is total news to me. I just looked at his numbers and he averaged near 30 points per game one season taking 24 shots per game and hitting at a 40% clip. That is dog shit levels of efficiency. How many points could I score if I took 24 shots in an NBA game…Over/Under 4 points?

“I’d Rather Go Blind,” Tell Mama, Etta James (1968)

MC: On this ballad for the ages, Etta James melds soul and the blues in a stunning and nuanced vocal performance about the despair of an unrequited love. Musically, the track has a simple arrangement, but the organ and horns that come and go throughout this track give it a mournful and bittersweet quality from a purely instrumental standpoint. James’ vocal is the real star of this show, however, adding layers of emotion with her delivery of each line and lyric, and  demonstrating why she’s one of the greatest singers to ever grace the mic.  

“Ozma,” Dreams in the Rat House, Shannon and The Clams (2013)

KG: Created as an ode to Shannon’s lovable pup Ozma who had recently passed away, “Ozma” is the perfect encapsulation of the garage-punk-rockabilly-doo wop sound that Shannon and The Clams have wholly embraced over their recording career. “Well I’ve seen, you in my dreams, you’ve regrown all your teeth / You’re sniffing flowers all day long, and laying in the sun” makes my heart melt. I’m gonna go hug my dog.

“Hanging On The Telephone,” Parallel Lines, Blondie (1978)

MC: Blondie’s take on this 1975 power-pop track written by The Nerves is one of those rare covers that manages to surpass the original. It maintains the instant catchiness of the Nerve’s version, but manages to both tighten and bulk-up its sound instrumentally. As the opening track to the new wave classic Parallel Lines, its two-and-a-half minute barnburner where frontwoman Debbie Harry snarls, pouts, and wails while sounding like the most inherently badass figure in the new wave scene. It maintains the edge of Blondie’s CBGB roots while also employing the group’s knack for a perfect pop structure. On a personal note, I went to a Blondie show with my mom and her friend one summer a few years ago, and even well into her 70s Debbie Harry and her band still kick live. 

“Tell Me Why,” Pleasure Victim, Berlin (1982)

KG: Now this is podracing (synth-pop)! Berlin’s sultry sophomore album, Pleasure Victim, had heads turning due to its suggestive lyrics and sexual themes that weren’t as prevalent in society as they are now. Despite the critical backlash, Pleasure Victim went certified platinum in sales and exemplified the successful synth-pop formula that would be used by many groups to come. Up-beat electronic programmed drums, Tron-like synthesizers that belong in a video game, and Terri Nunn’s passionate voice come together to create a song that can be seamlessly dropped into the volleyball scene from Top Gun without any hesitation. Seriously, mute the audio on that scene and play this song. Also, the guitar solo at the end is amazing and kinda catches the listener off guard after hearing the first 4 minutes of beep-boops.

“Crazy On You,” Dreamboat Annie, Heart (1975)

KG: A groundbreaking song from American rock band Heart, at its time of release, “Crazy On You” was notable for featuring a female acoustic guitarist, Nancy Wilson, which was incredibly rare in rock music. Finding an ideal balance between the acoustic folk rock introduction and electric guitar driven hard rock core of the song, “Crazy On You” is perfectly fit for FM radio stations wherever you may be. This song was also playable on Guitar Hero 2, but I was never good enough to play it on any difficulty higher than medium. I’m sorry, but the orange button is so hard to reach sometimes!

MC: Classic Kevin “Sausage Fingers” Gordon with the inability to reach the orange. Stick to “Eye of The Tiger,” kid. Leave the more intricate stuff to the rest of us. 

“Quand Les Larmes D’un Ange Font Danser La Neige,” Bon Voyage, Melody’s Echo Chamber (2018)

MC: A modern psychedelic rock epic that can stand toe-to-toe with some of Tame Impala’s best, French songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Melody Prochet’s track boasts an absolutely dynamic chorus that acts as a launching point for acoustic guitar swirls, demented drum fills, and eventually a little synth and guitar exploration. The breakdown in the middle is undeniably weird and sounds like tape-collage music of the 60s, yet it manages to make the return to the songs chorus all the more exhilarating. 

“Turn Into,” Turn Into, Jay Som (2016)

MC: The title track of Jay Som’s debut is a perfect little slice of dream pop bliss. Essentially a home-recorded demo, it’s a modern psychedelic gem, featuring kaleidoscopic guitar work and cooly delivered vocals. Melina Duterte has become a consistently captivating figure in the indie-music scene in her releases since, with her work bringing to mind the spontaneity of Alex G. Toss this one on during a sunny afternoon and all your troubles seem to wash away over the course of its run time.

KG: Wow this was a home-recorded demo? It’s amazing what the advent of modern recording equipment has done for bedroom-pop and the accessibility artists have with software to create and release music. Sort of a renaissance for the everyday musician.

“Let Me Get There,” Until The Hunter, Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions (2016)

MC: Hope Sandoval, of Mazzy Star fame, and Kurt Vile complement each other beautifully on this leisurely psych-folk duet. Sandoval’s voice remains otherworldly, both hushed and expressive, and Vile adds a bit of country twang with his own. The track feels like a more hazy take on Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood’s collaborations in the 60s. Sonically, it brings to mind a ride through the desert at dusk, completely spacious as the guitar improvisations and vocal-harmonies fill the sky with blue, purple, and orange hues. Was that utterly pretentious musical imagery? Yes, but dammit that’s how I feel about this track.

KG: The Sandoval-Vile pairing is a match made in heaven, I would love to hear them do an album together. Indie-dream pop is a genre fusion made for the 2020’s.

“Goat Head,” Jaime, Brittany Howard (2019)

KG: Brittany Howard of the Alabama Shakes released her debut solo album Jaime while on hiatus from the group in the fall of 2019. I will save the lyrical content of the song for your listening experience, but I do want to use this opportunity to plug some organizations that would greatly appreciate your funding right now. The Minnesota Freedom Fund was set up to provide cash-bail, an archaic and discriminatory system used to target low-income minorities, for protestors that are being detained in the Minneapolis protests as we speak. The financial relief they provide citizens in the short term is heroic. The George Floyd Memorial Fund, I Run With Maud Fund, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund are all also worthy of your attention. Black Lives Matter.

MC: Please consider donating if you’re in a position of being privileged enough to do so. More on this coming in the Nina Simone blurb.

“Gonna Love Me,” K.T.S.E., Teyana Taylor (2018)

KG: Multi-talented singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor dropped her second GOOD MUSIC album K.T.S.E. during Kanye West’s (Voldemort) 5 week run of releases during the summer of 2018. Sampling the 70’s soul song “I Gave To You” from The Delfonics and Michael Jackson’s cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine,” this modern R&B staple is a delight to the ear in due part to the clean production and Taylor’s dynamic vocal range that shines over the entirety of the song. Her sharp interplay with the squeaky “oh you’re gonna love me” sample is entertaining and sets the listener up for her lovely voice to cascade in the moment the sample cuts out.

MC: Teyana Taylor absolutely flexes her R&B vocal chops over one of Kanye’s finest productions of the last five years. If you need a secondary helping of the killer sample that acts as the backbone of this track, Nicolas Jaar takes it in a slightly more abstract, yet also fantastic direction on this Against All Logic track.

“The Look Of Love,” The Look Of Love, Dusty Springfield (1967)

KG: I have vivid childhood memories of sitting in the backseat of my grandpa’s mid-nineties Cadillac driving around the green expanse of up-state New York, where he lived at the time,  listening to this song. A beautiful arrangement of swirling violins and a sensual hotel-lobby saxophone, “The Look Of Love” is straight out of a James Bond movie (literally) in terms of aesthetic. Dusty Springfield’s voice is synonymous with intoxicating, lulling the listener into a haze with her gentle, but commanding voice.

MC: My dad had a CD compilation of this track’s songwriter, Burt Bacharach’s, greatest hits and I always dismissed it as schmaltzy old-person music. In hindsight, while it still might be exactly that, it’s impossible to deny the songcraft and arrangement that this song contains. Also Dusty’s voice is just serene, and the song probably slaps twice as hard in any candlelit setting. 

“Come Live With Me,” Afro-Harping, Dorothy Ashby (1968)

MC: One of the flat-out most hypnotic songs I’ve ever heard. It’s beautiful, it grooves, and it is damn near guaranteed to throw you in a trance if you listen closely. As one of the rare harpists in the world of jazz, Dorothy Ashby overcame skepticism from those who saw it as a classical-associated instrument and was even able to improvise bebop on it. Coupled with the adversity of being a black female musician in a male-dominated industry, Ashby defied all odds to be the preeminent harpist in jazz. This cut shows her leaning into a more soul and funk influenced sound and the results are absolutely stunning.

“Day Dreaming,” Young, Gifted and Black, Aretha Franklin (1972)

MC: We all know Aretha as the insanely powerful vocalist that solidified herself as the queen of soul, but this tender and psychedelic track shows her incredible range as a vocalist. The trippy intro sounds like you’re being beamed straight up into a daydream where Aretha holds court over a sauntering, jazzy groove. The track features soul legend Donny Hathaway on the keys and some wild flourishes of jazz flute. When the outro of the song beams you right back down to earth, it feels like the end of a blissful daydream that you wish would go on forever.

KG: The intro to this song was totally unexpected from an Aretha Franklin track, but fits the “Day Dreaming” title perfectly. Also I’m sure you’re daydreaming of being able to beat me at 2k20, Max has a losing record against me in all NBA 2k titles available. What is losing you say? 0 wins on the record book, including a 0.5 second remaining buzzer beat LAST NIGHT from the one and only James Harden. Sit down young fella.

“In And Out Of Love,” Reflections, Diana Ross & The Temptations (1968)

KG: A delectable sliver of sunshine pop and Motown grooves, Diana Ross scored a big hit with the easy-listening “In And Out Of Love” off of her 1968 Reflections compilation record. True to its genre, this track is a sunny day bop that actually hints at a bit more psychedelic pop than I had originally accounted for. Sweet and fun, Diana’s voice brings a smile to your face and pep in your step whenever you hear it. 

“Strange Fruit,” Pastel Blues, Nina Simone (1965)

MC: I randomly came across this video of Nina Simone discussing what it means to be an artist last week, and in the wake of the horrific George Floyd murder and with the ensuing grief and demand for change that has erupted subsequently, it feels especially pertinent today. Simone was one of the artists on the forefront of the civil rights movement during the 1960s advocating change by any means necessary. She’s also one of the most singularly fascinating and complex figures in the history of modern music, and this cover of Billie Holiday’s 1939 landmark recording “Strange Fruit,” is simply chill-inducing. While the purpose of Cannabis Cuts is to generally produce a playlist of ear-candy that we think you’ll enjoy, this week please take the time to think about how a song written 81 years ago about lynchings could possibly be just as relevant today, just how damn scary that is, and what you personally can do to help change that – please scope the links that Kevin provided in the Brittany Howard write-up and consider donating if you’re in a position where you’re fortunate enough to be able to. 

The Definitive Tame ImPowerRankings: Every Tame Impala Album Cut Ranked

“Not all of Kevin’s children are created equal.”

In honor of 10 years of Tame Impala albums this week, we’ve decided to rank all 48 of Tame’s album cuts – every song on Innerspeaker, Lonerism, Currents and The Slow Rush. Careful thought and consideration was put into the determining of these rankings, with weight given to instrumentation and production, danceability, and the lyrics. However, the most weight was given to the category of The Chacon Melting Point (trademark pending), a complex algorithm that determines just how heavily a Tame song melts your face. 

Being that Tame is an album-oriented project (and as we continue to do our best to pretend that that ZHU collab doesn’t exist), we only decided to include the album cuts. We tried to rank these as objectively as possible and we apologize if your favorite Tame cut fell short of where you hoped it might be. Without further ado, we present you with our latest labor of love: our Tame ImPowerRankings.

48. “She Just Won’t Believe Me,” Lonerism

MC: Clocking in at just under a minute, and featuring a sparse synth arrangement and hint of guitar at the end, this is more of an interlude than a real song. 

47. “Gossip,” Currents

KG: An interlude that sounds like psychedelic TV fuzz with a subtle guitar, this snippet of a track is just a tiny blip on the Currents radar. I did see Tame open with this song once, busting it straight into Let It Happen.

46. “It Might Be Time,” The Slow Rush

MC: The Supertramp meets blown-out drums sound of this song makes it Tame’s clunkiest full-length album cut. Weirdly enough, it’s been getting a decent amount of run on alternative radio stations, sandwiched between the tasteful stylings of The Offspring and Pearl Jam…not quite the realm that you want your Tame served up in. 

45. “Past Life,” Currents

MC: “I was picking up a suit from the dry cleaners / Which was standard for me / Thursday, 12:30, I gotta pretty solid routine these days.” 

These opening lines, delivered by presumably the world’s most domesticated Australian cyborg, make for one of the few downright corny moments in the Tame discography. The instrumental groove that the song settles into eventually kills, but lyrically Parker’s missteps stick out too much on this one to overlook. 

44. “Instant Destiny.” The Slow Rush

KG: A rare occurrence of the typically stoic Kevin Parker veering into a Kraft macaroni box of cheese, the lyrics on this sucker are right up there with Jimmy Fallon’s fake laugh in terms of cringe. “I’m about to do something crazy / No more delayin’ / No destiny is too far / We can get a home in Miami / Go and get married / Tattoo your name on my arm.” WOOF.

43. “Sun’s Coming Up,” Lonerism

MC: Lonerism’s closing track is one of Parker’s most personal lyrics, discussing the death of his father, and feelings of despair and hopelessness. Instrumentally, it’s a sparse piano ballad that fades out the album with a melodic guitar solo over audio-recordings of waves crashing on the shore. It acts as the album’s come-down after all the psychedelic highs that preceded it, but doesn’t stick out as one of the most musically-compelling Tame tracks. 

42. “I Don’t Really Mind,” Innerspeaker

KG: To be honest, it would be much more fitting for Innerspeaker to end with “Runway Houses City Clouds” as opposed to this song. But alas, “I Don’t Really Mind” rounds out the album leaving not necessarily a bad taste in your mouth… just not that great. It mainly suffers from being a bit repetitive lyrically and exploring the same sounds that were found throughout the album already. “I Don’t Really Mind” doesn’t properly cap off the journey Innerspeaker takes you on in the way it should.

41. “Glimmer,” The Slow Rush

KG: Armin Van Buren’s favorite song on The Slow Rush, “Glimmer” is a 2 minute dance-party that is covered in washed out synths and plucky guitar. I do enjoy hearing KP experiment with different style tracks, but this feels a bit out of left field in the Tame Impala discography.

40. “Lost In Yesterday,” The Slow Rush

MC: One of Parker’s most unabashedly hit-seeking tracks, it features the pop melodicism that Parker has always embraced, but falls short when it comes to any of the psychedelia or musical experimentation. It highlights the populist side of Parker that has writing credits on Travis Scott and The Weekend albums, but that still doesn’t make that Groundhog Day line any easier to digest.

39. “One More Year,” The Slow Rush

KG: The opening track to Tame Impala’s long awaited The Slow Rush sets a pretty nice tone for the album. A stylistic shift from the psych/synth-rock of previous Tame Impala releases, the drums on this track are suited straight for the dance floor. Trippy delay effects make Parker’s voice sound like he is speaking from another dimension, adding to the overall aesthetic. While it isn’t Tame’s best work, I think it serves as a nice introduction to The Slow Rush’s musical themes.

38. “Music To Walk Home By,” Lonerism

MC: I’ve tried for years now to truly love this track, but I generally find that I lose a little interest in it over the course of its five minute run-time. While by no means a weak track, this song comes out the gate with a strong pop melody, features sweeping layers of synths, and has some great guitar riffing. However structurally, with the way it chugs along and then fades out, it all doesn’t add up to one of Lonerism’s high points. 

37. “On Track,” The Slow Rush

MC: A rare lyrically optimistic Tame Impala track also happens to be one of the few power ballads in Parker’s discography. It’s a slow burning track that manages to succeed in sounding both arena-ready, while also coming off as a well-produced headphone trip at the same time. 

36. “New Person, Same Old Mistakes,” Currents

MC: Featuring a strong R&B-influenced production and pop melody, it’s easy to see why it’s been covered by Rihanna, has been a Tame setlist staple, and is one of Parker’s most commercially successful tracks up to this point. Lyrically this song serves as a strong conclusion to the personal narrative on Currents, and the bridge on this track is an absolute revelation. However, the majority of the song itself just feels a bit too heavy-handed to make it one of Tame’s best. 

35. “Tomorrow’s Dust,” The Slow Rush

KG: “Tomorrow’s Dust” is a production feat for Tame Impala. From their garage-ish sounding production on the debut record to this sparkly clean 5-minute track, Tame has come a long way in terms of their sonic polish. The arpeggio acoustic guitar is by far the highlight here, but unfortunately loses its appeal after a few minutes of repetition without going anywhere. While I do enjoy this track, I felt like it was a missed opportunity to capitalize on a really cool idea.

34. “Jeremy’s Storm,” Innerspeaker

KG: Hypnotic guitar riffs and lively drum fills have been a successful recipe for Kevin Parker throughout the years, and “Jeremy’s Storm” is no exception. Featuring the classic psych-rock sound found all over Innerspeaker, this instrumental is strong and fits the context of the album. The only real misstep for this song is its lack of memorability. 

33. “‘Cause I’m A Man,” Currents

MC: While certainly not a personal favorite of mine, it’s definitely one of those Parker compositions that manages to hook itself right into your head after the first listen. It exemplifies the genre-fusing direction that Parker has taken to from Currents onwards with a slow-burn R&B bassline while maintaining his signature spacey atmospherics. It might be a tad corny, but it’s a true testament to Parker’s pop songwriting chops.

32. “Is It True,” The Slow Rush

KG: “Is It True” is an excellent representation of the pop side of Kevin Parker. A super groovy bass line layered over drums made for a night out on the town, this track has fun and accessibility in mind. The squeaky synth sounds like a psychedelic kazoo, instantly adding to its dankness. 

31. “One More Hour,” The Slow Rush

KG: The ending epic of The Slow Rush, “One More Hour” starts with an intense combination of rattling guitar and hard drums, creating a thick layer of growing suspense. At the same time, Parker is fiercely reflecting on the life decisions that led him to this point in his life. While the beginning section is super awesome, the next part, a stuttering piano with Parker’s heavily distorted vocals, becomes a bit boring after about a minute. That same pattern of the song continues throughout, breathtaking intensity followed by unmemorable filler. The end result is a song with great highs and meh lows.

30. “Yes I’m Changing,” Currents

MC: One of those songs that flexes just how talented Parker from purely a production standpoint. Weirdly enough, when I hear this song I think of Steely Dan, who became known for making cutting-edge, audiophile albums that became the ultimate proving ground for a speaker system or headphones quality. This track has that same kind of brilliantly engineered sound. While, unlike Steely Dan, it’s lyrical depth doesn’t extend much further than its title, it’s a miniature synth symphony (a synthony, if you will) undercover as a pop song, 

29. “The Bold Arrow Of Time,” Innerspeaker

KG: Is marketing manipulative? Potentially, because I crave tequila everytime I hear this song. The deep, powerful guitar on “The Bold Arrow Of Time” has made it one of the more iconic tracks in the Tame Impala discography. It’s simple, but incredibly recognizable. The buzzy synth outro is also a taste of future Tame Impala to come.

28. “Why Won’t They Talk To Me?,” Lonerism

MC: Parker airs out his social insecurities with the kind of simple, honest question that so many introverts find themselves wondering. It’s a kaleidoscopic pop song that swirls and swells with synths and vocal layers, and is a perfect showcase for the way Parker turns his anxieties into bursts of psychedelic genius. 

27. “Posthumous Forgiveness,” The Slow Rush

KG: “Posthumous Forgiveness” was the first single from The Slow Rush that I really enjoyed. A very personal Parker sings about his late father, longing to tell him about the cool moments he experienced since his passing: “wanna tell you ’bout the time / (I was) I was in Abbey Road / (Or the) or the time that I had / (I had) Mick Jagger on the phone.” Instrumentation wise, this was the first appearance of Tame Impala’s more traditional electric guitar on The Slow Rush. Simultaneous buzzing synth and burly drums quickly transition into a much lower key outro to the song, featuring some hip-hop style drums that are a welcome touch. 

26. “The Moment,” Currents

MC: If this song was stripped of everything except for the drums, which shift and skate all over this funky track, it would still be well worth listening to. This is another Current’s showcase for Parker to create mind-bending, immaculately-detailed sonic productions and pass them off to listeners in the form of a pop song. Every texture Parker throws on this canvas from the snaps to the guitars are crisp and exciting to the ear.

25. “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind?,” Innerspeaker

MC: One of Parker’s best trancelike grooves. This track could be stretched out to unfathomable lengths and still retain its hypnotic sheen. A$AP Rocky may have tainted this song for some of us by unsuccessfully trying to croon a feel-good song of the summer, but this spacious showcase for Parker’s flanged-out guitars prove that, like all great producers, he knows that sometimes less is more.

24. “Be Above It,” Lonerism

MC: The opening track from Tame’s sophomore album takes a mantra-like hook sung in a near-whisper and turns it into the backbone of this propulsive track. Parker approaches this krautrock-influenced track like an electronic producer, slowly adding and tweaking drum and synth textures into a near collage of sound. There’s nothing else quite like it in the Tame catalogue, and it’s a showcase for Parker’s knack for creating compelling sonic experimentation outside of a pop framework.

23. “Expectation,” Innerspeaker

KG: Saw this song live for the first time at one of Tame Impala’s final shows before the COVID quarantine, and boy was it amazing. The vocal performance on “Expectation” is straight out of a Beatles daydream, airy and psychedelic in the best way possible. Excellent distorted guitar explodes up and down the entire song, layering with the drums to paint a trippy psych-rock portrait. The melodic bassline on the back minute and a half of “Expectation” serves as a peaceful interlude before the drums drink a red bull and overtake every other sound as the song winds down.

22. “Borderline,” The Slow Rush

KG: My timeline of human history is broken into 2 distinct parts. They are the Old Borderline Era and the New Borderline Era. Old Borderline Era refers to the version of “Borderline” that was released as a single for The Slow Rush. The song felt a little bit empty with just Parker’s voice and backing keyboard really carrying any weight. A time of savagery and despair. On the other hand, the New Borderline Era marked the release of The Slow Rush and featured a vastly upgraded version of “Borderline” that changed the track’s narrative. Now accompanied by a stellar bassline and wild flute, Parker’s vocals are amidst a giant palette of sound that make the song a standout on the album. The New Borderline era is the future and I am here for it.

21. “Desire Be Desire Go,” Innerspeaker

MC: The only song from Parker’s debut EP to make it onto Innerspeaker, this track is a perfect showcase for Tame’s heavier side. It nearly sounds like it could be a lost late-60s garage rock gem off the Nuggets compilation, but manages to also maintain a modern feel due to Parker’s studio technology embracing impulses. His use of effects and studio wizardry give these solo passages and riffs otherworldly textures. 

20. “Breathe Deeper,” The Slow Rush

MC: Similarly to “The Less I Know the Better,” this is one of those Tame Impala tracks that succeeds at inducing grooves on a dance floor. but also retains fascinating depth from a production standpoint. On top of a cool, loungey instrumental, Parker flips the house-influenced piano chords of that clunked-out on “Patience,” and manages to use them far more sparingly and impactfully in this track’s chorus. This track closes with an acid house riff that completely blurs the lines between a distorted guitar and a synth arpeggiator.

19. “Nangs,” Currents

MC: While the back end of this list included many of the other interludes in the Tame discography, on the grounds that they weren’t full songs, this Currents track is too sonically mind-melting to give that same treatment to. I’ll never know what the birth of the universe sounded like, but I’d like to imagine it sounded something like this track. It also provides a damn good showcase for Parker’s hip-hop influenced drumming.

18. “Reality In Motion,” Currents

KG: A view into the nervous thought-process before making the first move in a relationship, this synthy ballad is a delight to listen to everytime it comes on. Glittery synth tones contrast the sometimes paranoid lyrics, “Making such a promise / Only leads to heartache / Closer to an earthquake,” creating a song that touches a range of emotions. The guitar that sneaks its way in during the last minute is Tame af and perfectly wraps up this gem.

17. “Lucidity,” Innerspeaker

KG: “Lucidity” is Kevin Parker’s harrowing call for a moment of clarity, pleading to re-align his senses and bring him back to normalcy. Truly a song made for acid, the iconic guitar riff disorients the listener in a sonic fuzz that replicates a hazy mental state. Simply put, “Lucidity” is an incredible piece of music that remains at the forefront of modern psychedelia.

16. “Endors Toi,” Lonerism

MC: Meaning “fall asleep” in French, this lyrically sparse track is one of the more explosive psychedelic moments in the Tame discography. Parker’s drum-fills and crashes propel this track forward, while layers of synths swirl and boil over. One of Parker’s classic fuzzed-out guitar solos closes it off after the synths reach their peak, marking the end of this three-minute whirlwind of psychedelia.

15. “Love/Paranoia,” Currents

KG: As the song title suggests, “Love/Paranoia” is a depiction of the paranoid feelings that come with Parker’s love life. While he desires to be secure and comfortable in his relationship, his nibbling anxiety ridden thoughts are eroding his trust in his partner, leading him to question their faithfulness. Alongside the raw lyrical narrative is some perfect instrumentation to capture this period of uncertainty. The first half of the song is a wave of different sounds, intended to depict moments of internal peace juxtaposed with moments of fear and anxiety. The second half of the song switches gears completely as Parker reflects on his erratic mental behaviour. A somber violin and gentle guitar set the mood for introspection and remorse, culminating in his apology to his partner. “Love/Paranoia” is an emotional journey highlighting the elite songwriting talent Parker possesses. 

14. “Solitude Is Bliss,” Innerspeaker

MC: Innerspeaker’s most instantly accessible moment comes in the form of this perfect little psych-pop jam. It’s an introvert’s anthem with Parker delivering gems like “there’s a party in my head & no one is invited,” over punchy guitars and sugar-sweet hooks. It’s the most obvious early example of Parker’s incredible pop-songwriting prowess. 

13. “Disciples,” Currents

KG: A golden power-pop nugget that doesn’t waste any time jumping directly into the song, the only thing holding “Disciples” back is the short run time. A killer guitar and alien-like synth sound feature heavily here, constructed into the ideal pop structure for Parker’s blunt falsetto proclamations. If this song were stretched another 2 minutes it would be in the top 5. 

12. “It Is Not Meant To Be,” Innerspeaker

MC: The lead-off track on Tame’s debut wastes no time in establishing the fact that Parker is an absolute master at creating trancelike psychedelic grooves. This track features a simplistic psychedelic riff, yet Parker manages to make it shift and swirl by bathing it in layers of delay, compressors, and phasers. It’s a blissfully hypnotic track that marks the entry point into the Tame album discography.

11. “Keep On Lying,” Lonerism

KG: Lonerism succeeded in extrapolating the unrefined elements of Innerspeaker’s production into perfect studio quality psych-rock that maintained its vibrant sound and pop sensibilities. “Keep On Lying” is the definition of that success, showcasing a washy soundscape of trippy keyboards and distorted guitar. Another iconic guitar riff is present here, reminding listeners that Parker is adept on pretty much every instrument he commonly has laying in the studio.

10. “Runway Houses City Clouds,” Innerspeaker

MC: “the first true Tame multi-part epic. It’s an ambitious track that’s so good, I’m still mildly disappointed they didn’t close out the album with it…As its title somewhat implies, this song manages to conjure the imagery of flight, jumping out the gate like a plane leaving the runway with frantic drumming, fuzzed-out guitar, and Parker crying out from beneath the noise like a flight attendant having an existential freak-out over the loudspeaker. After four minutes and twenty seconds (coincidence?!?) of on-and-off turbulence, things drop-out into a more subdued and hypnotic jam. The music drifts onwards like the sound of the world’s grooviest passenger plane calmly coasting out of the eye of a storm. Tame would go on to record more impressive epics, such as “Apocalypse Dreams,” or “Let It Happen,” but the end of this track still boasts the most tranquil passage of music Parker has ever recorded” (from Culture Blender’s Innerspeaker retrospective).

9. “The Less I Know The Better,” Currents

KG: Social media’s favorite Tame Impala song, “The Less I Know The Better” is probably the most recognizable of their discography. This is in part primarily due to the intoxicating bassline featured on this track, transporting the listener directly to the dance floor for some impassioned grooves.

8. “Elephant,” Lonerism

KG: “Elephant” was the first Tame Impala song I ever knowingly heard and it honestly makes sense. The simple, but thunderous, bass plods along like an elephant, commanding the attention of anyone within earshot. On top of that, the guitar solo in the middle of this song is one of the best in the entire Tame discography. “Elephant” can only be fully enjoyed when experienced at a live set, but DAMN is it good. 

7. “Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control,” Lonerism

MC: This impractically-named Tame epic functions as Lonerism’s psychedelic climax – a final burst of prismatic color before the come-down of “Sun’s Coming Up.” Complete disclaimer: on many days this is my personal favorite Tame track. Why? It really just comes down to those drums. The musical interplay between Parker’s synth progression and drum fills makes for one of the most exciting moments in the Tame discography. The urgency of the fills ascend while the synths eventually launch completely skyward to the heavens, only to finally come back to earth  to reprise the chorus one more time. A true 10/10 face-melter.

6. “Eventually,” Currents

MC: Parker’s ultimate power ballad is also one of his most immaculately-engineered soundscapes. It features a hard-hitting riff, countless synth textures, hip-hop drums, vocal swirls, and an instantly-memorable belter of chorus. Parker’s use of silence on this track, however, might be its most hard-hitting feature. He builds these immensely-rich walls of sound, only to have a drum-hit snap the track into a brief count of silence, and then brings all the sonic details back. It’s one of the most powerful production tricks he’s employed, and Parker is a world-class producer. 

5. “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” Lonerism

MC: A Beatles-worthy psychedelic pop song, Parker manages to blend a captivating bassline, hip-hop drumming, and washes of synths into a sugar-sweet pop nugget. It’s been streamed nearly 200,000,000 times on Spotify, and the fact that he was able to turn such a warped arrangement into an indie-pop favorite speaks volumes about Parker as a songwriter.

KG: An anthem to its core, “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” can be loudly sung along to like an everyday pop hit while still maintaining its pure psych roots. The chorus is a dreamy respite, and, as Max pointed out, would fit in seamlessly with any of the Beatles psych-pop selections. This was a no-brainer for the top 5. 

4. “Alter Ego,” Innerspeaker

MC: The dial-up intro, the instant propulsive swirls of guitar, some of Kevin’s best introverted stoned wisdom, “ALL YOUR MEANT TO BE,” Lennon-esque harmonies…all while layered like a dance track with continually shifting and building elements of percussion and synths & effects. It’s an immediate transportation into a universe of melt.

KG: This was the first song on my giant spreadsheet of song ratings to score a perfect 10 in the “Chacon Melting Point” section. And rightfully so, my face is completely melted. Slathered in distortion from every angle, commanding drums driving the song forward, it is the 7-layer cake of Tame Impala and it tastes amazing.

3. “Mind Mischief,” Lonerism

MC: Another undeniably perfect Parker-written pop song gets treated to a Zeppelin worthy-riff that sounds like it would have fit snugly into Houses of the Holy, and funks it up with some hip-hop drum kicks. The bridge on this track is about as blissful as psychedelic music gets and the filters that Parker applies throughout this thing are pure ear candy. On the surface it’s psychedelic rock, but there’s so much genre-fluidity happening here from a production standpoint that it’s easy to take the genius of this track for granted.

KG: Kevin Parker’s best instrument is the drums, and this is his crowning achievement. The drum-fills on this song take up every bit of space available, creatively timed to last a little bit longer than the trippy guitar and vocals also present. I always catch myself air drumming to this song and I’ll be damned if the day ever comes where I stop doing just that.

2. “Apocalypse Dreams,” Lonerism

MC: A chipper pop-song of the McCartney strain sounds like it gets launched into outer space in slow-motion. When the gentle synths wash over the wall of sound that Parker engineers, along with the Parker vocals and drum fills, it’s fucking serenity. Time and space stops for a bit. It’s become the beating psychedelic heart of every Tame live set since it’s release. It’s perfect.

KG: “Apocalypse Dreams” and “Mind Mischief” being back to back on Lonerism is like trying to pitch to the murderers’ row New York Yankees lineup. Okay great, I made it through Babe Ruth… fuck here comes Lou Gehrig. Every time I hear these tracks together I feel like the luckiest man on earth, so should you.

1. “Let It Happen,” Currents

MC: A nearly eight-minute psychedelic dance odyssey, this is the perfect encapsulation of everything Tame was and has come to be be about. It features swirling psych melodies with big time riffs, passage after passage of new synth textures and shifting grooves, all while maintaining the feel of a peak-time, disco-ball-lit, dance cut. It’s the perfect merge of Parker’s love for psychedelic rock with his electronic-influenced production tendencies. It might be a complete mystery what he’s singing in the vocoded-out closing of this track, but that doesn’t make it any less serene. I think my friends and I played it on loop for about a full hour when it initially came out, yet  it’s one of those tracks that’s so immaculately detailed and well-sequenced that it maintains every bit of its impact no matter how many listens you give it.

KG: There isn’t much more I can say about this song that hasn’t already been mentioned by Max. I will use this moment to reiterate that “Let It Happen” is Tame Impala’s finest and most complete work, showcasing every element of their discography to create a psych/dance/synth/rock masterpiece. “Let It Happen” is also a pillar of Tame’s live set and makes for an absolutely incredible time, filled with dancing, singing, and confetti. Enjoy!

All You’re Meant to Be: Innerspeaker Turns 10

Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker celebrates its 10th anniversary today. In celebration, we let Culture Blender’s Max Chacon ramble at length about one of his favorite albums.

There’s something more than a little poetic about Tame Impala’s Innerspeaker turning 10 in the midst of the most isolating era of our lifetimes. The album was recorded in a giant, remote, wooden beach shack, four hours away from Kevin Parker’s home of Perth, the most isolated city on Earth. It’s an album that, lyrically, is about a dialogue for one – between Parker and his own self-doubts, longings and expectations. The title of Innerspeaker itself, which Parker discussed in this Rollo & Grady interview, is “meant to suggest that the songs come from somewhere internal, rather than slowly taking shape with a bunch of guys jamming in a room.” 

Essentially, this is music from the mind of a geologically isolated, socially isolated, stoned introvert, made for fans of heady psychedelic music (also frequently referred to as stoned introverts). It’s an album for the album-lover, featuring an incredibly unified sound, thematic scope, and presenting the general vibe that you are listening to the ebb and flow of Parker’s personal thoughts drifting from one corner of his mind to the next.

While I certainly wasn’t on the cutting edge of listening to this album the day it dropped, the anniversary of this album means that Tame Impala have been a part of my life for nearly a decade now, and that feels pretty surreal. During the pre-streaming era that this album came out in, my music consumption habit was sponsored by a music-loving aunt of mine who would get really cheap album downloads from some Russian website (I’m sure it was super legitimate and legal) and email them to me. Sometimes I would request albums and other times she would send me new music that she thought I would enjoy – Innerspeaker was one of the latter. It came with a bundle of new releases she had sent me, and as usual all of this music was funneled straight into my holy grail, my most prized possession: my iPod touch.

One day shortly down the line, while shuffling through my songs I stumbled upon “Expectation” off the album, marking the first time I ever knowingly heard a song from the mind of Kevin Parker. To put things concisely: it fucked me up. As a thirteen year old with an already established love for the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Flaming Lips, and MGMT this was just about everything I loved about music tucked away into eleven tracks. I was hooked. Thank you Auntie Ashley.

The first time I ever played Tame for my dad, upon learning that I wasn’t playing him some obscure Beatles deep cut, he quipped that it “sounds just like the Beatles if they kept making music into the 70s.” To this day that really sticks with me when trying to boil down the essence of early Tame Impala. While Parker’s voice has an uncanny resemblance to John Lennon’s, the songs on Innerspeaker balance the undeniable pop melodicism of The Beatles, the distorted blues attack of Led Zeppelin, and Pink Floyd’s knack for instrumental passages that stretch grooves into outer space. 

Similar to James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, Parker’s music wore his influences on his sleeve, yet managed to avoid the Zeppelin-by-numbers trappings of, say, Greta Van Fleet. Parker created a singular sound that would separate Tame from countless other nostalgia acts. This was largely due to Parker’s impulses as a producer, layering effects into walls of sound and crafting trancelike grooves that seemed to shift and swirl with each added element. 

Album opener “It Is Not Meant to Be,” is driven by one of these prolonged grooves. While ultimately a simplistic chord progression, the guitars are soaked in more compressor, phaser, delay, and reverb filters than I can even pretend to know about. It’s a clear indication of the studio-as-an-instrument approach that Parker has used ever since to put the heady soundscapes that exist in his mind to tape. Lyrically, it deals with Parker speculating to himself about a potential relationship he knows would be doomed from the start.

Parker’s internal dialogues about self-doubt, longing, and isolation weren’t exactly new concepts in the world of popular music. For as long as socially awkward musical geniuses have flocked to guitars, there’s been music regarding these themes. However, rarely had it ever sounded so mind-melting. For instance, on the chugging psych-rock jam “Lucidity,” Parker ponders the idea the he “might just float away,” from all the emotional uncertainty he faces, only for the line to immediately be followed by concise yet exhilarating guitar solo that sounds like you’re watching a balloon drift off higher and higher into the sky. On the instrumental “Jeremy’s Storm,” guitar lines swirl, intertwine and distort until they reach a cacophonous point that resembles a thunderstorm

From the get-go, Parker created music that you could close your eyes, immerse yourself in, and create some sort of cosmic light show in your mind’s eye. In 2020, the guitars may have been traded in for synths but Parker’s audiophile tendencies still allow for listeners to come away from each following Tame album with ultimately the same type of experience. 

The hard rock crunch of “Desire Be Desire Go” and “The Bold Arrow of Time,” can be traced more directly to Parker playing in the Perth music scene, where members of Tame Impala and Pond gigged interchangeably in each other’s various songwriting projects. In previous interviews, Parker has admitted to splitting his writing during this early period between songs like these to play live, and the more genre-fluid compositions that have come to define the project. While these tracks undoubtedly rip (and make for pretty badass tequila swigging music), they are certainly holdovers from that more live-music oriented approach.

While a good faction of Tame Impala fans yearn for Parker to return to the guitar dominant productions of Innerspeaker these days, all the impulses that led him to the current state of Tame Impala can be seen here in embryonic form. This is especially true on the album’s high-point, “Alter Ego.” While on the surface it sounds like a far cry from the more dance-oriented direction Parker would take with albums like Currents and The Slow Rush, this track has more in common with his later compositions, such as “Let It Happen” than first meets the ear. The song functions almost identically to a dance track, adding layer after layer of guitars, synths, and breakbeat percussion until it reaches its most propulsive point – only to break and then build it back to that point again. In addition, while Parker’s vocals are buried lower in the mix throughout the album, it’s still beyond apparent that each of these songs are anchored by their pop hooks and melodies. After the warm reception to Innerspeaker, Parker simply has just felt less obligated to disguise them on ensuing albums.

The album’s other stand-out moment, “Runway Houses City Clouds,” is the first true Tame multi-part epic. It’s an ambitious track that’s so good, I’m still mildly disappointed they didn’t close out the album with it – as opposed to the album’s weakest link, the somewhat stagnant “I Don’t Really Mind.” As its title somewhat implies, this song manages to conjure the imagery of flight, jumping out the gate like a plane leaving the runway with frantic drumming, fuzzed-out guitar, and Parker crying out from beneath the noise like a flight attendant having an existential freak-out over the loudspeaker. After four minutes and twenty seconds (coincidence?!?) of on-and-off turbulence, things drop-out into a more subdued and hypnotic jam. The music drifts onwards like the sound of the world’s grooviest passenger plane calmly coasting out of the eye of a storm. Tame would go on to record more impressive epics, such as “Apocalypse Dreams,” or “Let It Happen,” but the end of this track still boasts the most tranquil passage of music Parker has ever recorded.

Tame Impala would go on to become a festival-headlining act and one of the most universally appealing groups (The Less I Know the better has half a billion streams) in modern music due to Parker’s psychedelic rock, R&B, dance, and pop appeal. But the charm of Innerspeaker is it’s rough-around-the-edges and old-school psychedelic sound, with the blueprint for each Tame album to come subtlety lying beneath the surface. These songs vary from good to great, are stacked with hooks and musical exploration, and feature the mind-melting musical textures that Parker has provided us with for a full decade now. 

I first heard Tame Impala back on that iPod touch in middle school, and Parker’s music has been a constant in my life every step of the way. Thematically, his music might be about what goes on in the head of a shy psychedelic rock fanatic, but ironically enough it’s been a cornerstone of a lot of the friendships and relationships I’ve formed along the way. 

Now I’ve graduated college only to conveniently be smacked in the face by the reality of trying to find a job amidst a pandemic, but if Innerspeaker is a reminder of anything, it’s that despite the general weirdness of the human experience and all the uncertainty that exists right now, there’s a whole lot of escapist bliss to be found in tossing on a pair of headphones and hitting play on one of your favorite records.

In the very heart of the album, in the midst of the perfect psych-pop jam that is “Solitude is Bliss,” Parker declares that “there’s a party in my head and no one is invited.” For 10 years now, Innerspeaker has given listeners the chance to crash that party over and over again, and I count myself among the many who are grateful for the opportunity.

Cannabis Cuts Vol. 3 – This is Your King?

Welcome to the third installment of our bi-weekly cannabis cuts commentated playlist, a tribute and appreciation of the symbiotic relationship between music and Mary Jane. After selecting 20 of our hip-hop favorites last week, we’re back with a freewheeling grab bag of twenty more favorites with no regard to genre. Listen below and read through for hot-takes, banter and more in the text below, regarding Stephen A. Smith vs James Brown, how Kevin’s tennis career sailed too close to the sun, and thoughts on the greatest Elvis:

“Sunday Morning,” Take a Picture, Margo Guryan (1968)

MC: If I had no knowledge of this song and someone played it to me, I might mistake it for a banger of a new Melody’s Echo Chamber track. Margo Guryan is one of those frustrating artists that seemingly had a fully-formed sound of her own, made a single album, and then peaced out from recording music due to disillusion with the industry itself. Her voice is dreamy, melodic, and seems to drift and float over the psychedelic-funk instrumentation of the song. It’s one of those ageless tracks that sounds like it could be one of the coolest songs of either 1968 or 2020, and is a surefire way to shrink your Sunday scaries.

“5 a.m.,” Begin, The Millenium (1968)

MC: This perfect slab of sunshine pop is two-and-a-half minutes of pure bliss. Although this LA group only released one album, it’s a lost classic featuring many tracks and moments that hold up next to the psychedelic pop harmonies, orchestral leanings and melody-rich productions of the Beach Boys and the Zombies. I’d be a lot more obliged to wake up at five in the morning if the experience was always as pleasant as this song makes it sound.

KG: “5 a.m.” slides in perfectly next to its more popular contemporaries, it’s crazy that a group like this can create such a quality piece of music and simply not record anything else. Kinda reminds me of my first time beating Max in tennis, a sudden death thriller culminating in a Wimbledon-lite victory at our local tennis court. Too bad I didn’t follow The Millennium’s lead because I think we played again within the week and I got trounced. Always go out on top!

“Alentejo,” From Hank, Bruce, Brian and John, The Shadows (1967)

MC: I’d been reading a lot of Kevin Parker interviews over the past week or two in preparation for Innerspeaker turning 10 this Thursday (more on that coming Thursday), and he frequently cites this group as central to his musical development. Being pretty certain that anything that influenced the sound of the dude who made Lonerism was worth checking out, I ran through several of their albums. As primarily an old-school instrumental rock group, they were incredibly tight with impressive range from surf rock to Latin-flavored tunes like this one. This is one of those tracks that is so smooth that just about anything, from a joint to a lukewarm glass of Lysol, would go down well to it.

“Hot Hot Hot!!!,” Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, The Cure (1987)

KG: Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me, The Cure’s 1987 predecessor to their 1989 masterpiece Disintegration, rightfully serves as the White Album of their respective discography. At 18 tracks long, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me is an eclectic showcase of every trademark sound The Cure had come to master through 1987. “Hot Hot Hot!!!” is a dance-rock/synth-pop hybrid that has the listener simultaneously bobbing their head to a funky guitar, wiggling their waist with the grandiose synth, and craning their neck trying to figure out what the fuck Robert Smith is wailing about. All together, “Hot Hot Hot!!!” is a conglomerate of dank that can be enjoyed in just about any setting. 

“Near Wild Heaven,” Out Of Time, R.E.M. (1991)

KG: My first car was a hand-me-down 2001 Ford F-150 (in a tasteful shade of taco-bell brown) that my dad had been driving for over a decade. Upon handing over the keys, my dad seemed more concerned with me taking care of his coveted CD collection stashed in the back of the truck than potentially getting in an accident and messing up the vehicle. The CD stash is the literal embodiment of the phrase “Oh that’s one my mom/dad’s favorite albums!” featuring timeless anthems such as “Sultans of Swing” from the Dire Straits debut album, a Derek and the Dominos rendition of “Layla” and, most notably, Out Of Time from college-rock legends R.E.M. Michael Stipes’ distinctive voice shines on this gentle guitar jam, harmonizing with his bandmates to create a unique whine that pleads to be sung along to. Road-tested in my truck for over 5 years, “Near Wild Heaven” feels like a nostalgia trip of nasal-y goodness.

“Just,” The Bends, Radiohead (1995)

KG: Modern music’s best kept secret, Radiohead stumbled onto the scene with their spotty debut record Pablo Honey. While this album was responsible for Radiohead’s most recognizable tune “Creep” (which is about the farthest thing from anything else in their discography), holistically it was a failure and had the band keen to come out swinging with their follow-up record. And boy did they succeed, The Bends is a 90’s Alt-Rock nugget that captured the wild sound of Pixies and packaged it in a tighter indie style. “Just” is a glorious example of that, teetering between brash hard-rocking guitar and Thom Yorke’s gentle croon. Radiohead would go on to have one of the most acclaimed careers of all-time, and The Bends is an excellent entry point for any prospective fan. 

MC: One of those rare festival headliners that is vastly misrepresented by their most popular song. This song and album are pretty indicative that Radiohead could’ve gone on to rule the post-Nirvana world of alt-rock if they were content to settle on that. Fortunately for us, they continued experimenting, developing their sound and have since amassed one of the finest discographies in the history of modern music. The Bends is where the magic really begins though.

“Uncontrollable Urge,” Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Devo (1978)

KG: Musical auteur Brian Eno produced Devo’s post-punk jam in between his commitments to David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy. “Uncontrollable Urge” is one of those culturally relevant songs you’ve probably heard somewhere along your venture through life, but remains just as hype after every listen. A buzzing chorus comprised of many repeated “yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeahyeah yeah’s” means it doesn’t take too much work to become familiar with the lyrics and is a worthy shout while driving down the coast.

MC: Unfortunately, you’ve probably encountered it as the warning siren that you’re about to be subjected to a barrage of real-cool-skater-guy Rob Dyrdek’s “jokes” and Chanel West Coast’s banshee war cry of a laugh as it’s been the theme song for 16 seasons of MTV’s crown jewel of programming, Ridiculousness. 

“Harrowdown Hill,” The Eraser, Thom Yorke (2006)

MC: On multiple occasions, Kevin and I have thrown on this song mid-sesh only to then put our heart and souls into channelling our favorite five-foot-five, English-but-maybe-from-Mars frontman in belting the chorus on this thing. And oh what a chorus it is. This glitchy and funky track is Yorke at his finest: conjuring spacey electronic soundscapes for his paranoia-laced lyrics. While he’ll rightly always be best-associated with his Radiohead material, this is a friendly reminder that Yorke maintains a pretty remarkably high level of quality for his solo material as well. Also here’s a dope video of Yorke playing the track with his Atoms for Peace bandmate and known Californian, Flea.

KG: Am I Flea or Thom Yorke in our friendship?

MC: Probably Flea by virtue of just making more Staples Center appearances.

“Spit on a Stranger,” Terror Twilight, Pavement (1999)

MC: I’m not totally sure how, but at some point over the last few weeks I found myself watching this slightly uncomfortable video of Stephen Malkmus dressed like a flamboyant Miami coke dealer playing a solo rendition of this track in a cafe in France. Even in its most bare-bones form, it reminded me what downright well-written and yearning indie tune this is. Culture Blogger does not condone the act of spitting on strangers during this pandemic climate, but we do condone this track. 

KG: Malkmus’ shirt is absolute fire in this video. Would 100% rock that thing the first night out of quarantine at the bars. I only spit facts, not saliva.

“History Lesson,” Sirens, Nicolas Jaar (2016)

MC: Chilean-American composer and electronic artist Nicolas Jaar gives his take on the classic jukebox doo-wop sound with this eerily gorgeous and minimalist recounting of the history of America’s interventions in the country of his heritage summarized succintly: “We fucked up.” And did it again, and again, and never owned up to it. Jaar cracks the code on anti-imperialist doo-wop while reminding us of the political potential of electronic music in the process.

“Lady Day and John Coltrane,” Pieces of a Man, Gil Scott-Heron (1971)

KG: Gil Scott-Heron’s special brand of woke spoken word poetry and jazz-funk instrumentation make this record a smooth dip into the early 1970’s civil rights movement. “Plastic people with plastic minds/Are on their way to plastic homes” is a brief line that couldn’t be more accurate in modern times due to the meteoric rise of the Internet of Things. It feels like Scott-Heron was constantly a step ahead of his contemporaries, making his insightful music something that can be forever enjoyed by culture fans to come. 

“Bewildered,” Sex Machine, James Brown (1970)

MC: The hardest-working man in show business gives a dynamic live performance on this classic soul cut. The horns section acts as the track’s serotonin-producing hook, but Brown’s wails, begs, and pleads do the heavy lifting through the six-minute duration of the track. It’s easy evidence as to why Brown is credited as one of the greatest live performers of all-time and revered as the Godfather of Soul.

KG: Max “The Controversy” Chacon is back at it again, this time discrediting Stephen A. Smith as the hardest working man in show business. Balancing a schedule of ESPN’s First Take with the naw-inspiring Max Kellerman, radio shows, breaking news reporting, and even working the Sportscenter desk once a week is nearly impossible. Remember kids, you can work hard, but Stephen A. is working harder.

“The Beat,” This Year’s Model, Elvis Costello (1978)

KG: Heard this song for the first time last week when I was digging through Elvis Costello’s extensive discography. Mans has five albums that are regarded by critics to be absolute classics, including This Year’s Model, and has more than his fair share of good-great albums just below the classic designation. If you are looking for perfect power pop music, this is your stop. The greatest Elvis?

MC: An Elvis Costello vs Elvis Presley WWE Smackdown article may just have to be on the horizon. 

“Rock & Roll,” Loaded, The Velvet Underground (1970)

MC: My all-time favorite rock and roll song about how great rock and roll is (sorry Joan Jett), this is one of the Velvet Underground’s most accessible, feel-good, and instantly infectious songs. It’s a propulsive track that features one of Lou Reed’s most animated vocal performances and shows that while the Velvets might be known for the way they pushed the boundaries of experimentation in rock music, they could also step back and write a damn good rock and roll tune too.

KG: I can’t help but describe this song as the epitome of a vintage track. Something about it screams flying down the coast in a 1970 Pontiac Firebird with the wind in your hair and not a bad thought on your mind. More importantly, what happened to painting giant flaming birds on the hood of your car? That shit is awesome, I want one on my PT Cruiser.

“Heart of Grass,” Heart of Grass – Single, Silk Rhodes (2015)

MC: The first installment of Cannabis Cuts highlighted a track from Drugdealer, a project spearheaded by Michael Collins. Prior to using the Drugdealer moniker to create Laurel Canyon-worthy psychedelic pop and singer-songwriter albums, he made up the production half of the duo Silk Rhodes. Much like Drugdealer, this project has a surreal and mind-bending aesthetic to it, and isn’t all that subtle on the drug references. The tracks under this moniker, however, are minimalist funk and soul gems that recall the stripped-away brilliance of Sly & the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On. The man doesn’t even have his own Wikipedia page, but Michael Collins is a name that consistently has been behind some of the best psychedelic music of the last half-decade. Also, is “Heart of Grass,” just a weed pun on “Heart of Glass?” For the sake of this feature, we’ll say yes. 

KG: Being a fairly popular/relevant artist in the year 2020 without a wikipedia page is actually shocking to me and might be the most impressive thing on this list. Literally everything has a wikipedia page nowadays, including this list of animals with fraudulent diplomas I found. Maybe I’ll get a wikipedia page for being the first human to receive a Dogtorate. I’ll see myself out.

“Long Hot Summer,” Introducing The Style Council, The Style Council (1983)

KG: A Tyler, The Creator recommendation during one his hilarious Nardwuar interviews, The Style Council is a blue-eyed soul group from the early 80’s that creatively mixed the synthesized tones of the era with traditional soul vocals to craft an easy listening classic. I envision “Long Hot Summer” as the ideal song for an 80’s montage of Miami’s sunny beaches. Long panning shots contrasting the beautiful blue ocean with vibrant yellow sand, jump cuts of bright (awesome) neon outfits, and a slow zoom-in on a refreshing mojito. Is that DJ Khaled in the background?

“Eyes Without a Face,” Rebel Yell, Billy Idol (1983)

MC: Towards the beginning of quarantine, with what felt like infinite free time on my hands, I started to binge-watch a bunch of Thrasher street skating videos. Am I lanky, uncoordinated and awful at skating? Yes. Does the seemingly endless variety and combination of tricks, ability to turn concrete-jungles-where-dreams-are-made-of into skateparks, and balls to the wall sendiness/expression of skating fascinate me to no end? Also yes. At some point down the wormhole, I got hooked on videos from Mark Gonzales, aka the Gonz, a stylish and enigmatic LA County skater who, from my understanding, is a pioneer and arguably the most influential figure ever in the world of street skating. All of this seemingly unrelated set-up leads us to this video of his that I was watching, when all of a sudden at the half-way mark Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face,” seemingly descends from the heavens into the video like a message from a leather-clad, bleached-hair angel of the MTV era. This is a song I had heard several times prior, but never paid much attention to. Outside of the refreshing novelty of watching a skate video that wasn’t soundtracked by a hardcore punk track (no disrespect to the genre, but variety is dope), I realized for the first time in my life that there was beauty even to be found in Billy Idol tracks, an artist who I had previously dismissed. It’s the kind of gorgeous and emotive synth ballad that slowly washes over you that bands like Cut Copy owe a good chunk of their existence to. So shout out to the Gonz and shout out to Billy Idol.

KG: Hey little sister, what have you done? I want to watch a supercut of the Gonz and Rodney Mullen going back and forth with White Wedding blasting in the background, I feel like it would liven up the scene a little bit. Seriously though, Rebel Yell is a pretty damn good album. I always slept on Billy Idol, but maybe my ways will change.

“This Is The Day,” Soul Mining, The The (1983)

KG: Of the songs listed so far, this one easily had the biggest impact on my life. Coming out of a rough few months of existence, I was feeling a bit low and wanted to lean on some new music to help me get through the bad blip. I don’t exactly remember how I stumbled upon this song, I think the band name The The caught my eye due to its subtle pretentiousness and artsy aesthetic, but the moment I heard “This Is The Day” I was blown away forever. This song created what I affectionately refer to as my “80’s nightmare” being I didn’t listen to anything but 80’s synth-pop for over 3 months. Every single day was a glorious adventure into music’s earliest electronic endeavours, making me smile with every new beep-boop I discovered. A testament to music and mood, this song holds a really special place in my heart because of the catharsis it brought me. Is the stunning melody played on an actual accordion or a synth creation? Who cares, I fucking love this song and I hope you do too.

MC: This track feels like every John Hughes coming-of-age film from Ferris Bueller to The Breakfast Club rolled into a perfect five-minute pop song. It manages to be one of those feel-good, seize-the-day jams that somehow is too euphoric and earnest to be bogged down by corniness. Carpe diem, baby.

“Sooner Than You Think,” Low-life, New Order (1985)

KG: A favorite from my aforementioned “80’s nightmare,” New Order is an English rock band created on the heels of the stunning loss of the lead singer from their previous band Joy Division. Cultivating their post-punk background into a new-wave synth inspired arrangement, New Order became one of the flagship groups of the era and defined cool in a way few bands have done before or since. Peter Hook’s dropped bass is low and rattling, providing one of the most iconic bass sounds ever. “Sooner Than You Think” begins with a minute of Hook’s mesmerizing sound weaving over a beat, but the song suddenly shifts into a club-bouncing banger of a synth-pop track. Bernard Sumner musing over a glammy synth sound is perfectly juxtaposed with the heavy bass and creates an excellent venture into 80’s club scenes.

MC: New Order has to be undoubtedly one of the most influential groups on modern “indie” music. Every group, from Hot Chip to Gorillaz, that decided to piece together dance grooves with indie-rock songwriting can be directly traced back to this group. They managed to spruce up the typically frustrated and angular template of post-punk songwriting with layers of synths and basslines and consistently made music that soared in all environments from clubs to arenas to headphones. 

“I Want To Be A Machine,” Ultravox!, Ultravox (1977)

KG: An absolute epic, “I Want To Be A Machine” deserves to be listened to with headphones and a blunt. Floydian in the best way possible, the opening to this song sounds like Peter Gabriel doing a Roger Waters impression. The eery guitar and soft singing set the stage for a dramatic instrumental, making me want to literally transform myself into the most compatible machine for my personality (a keurig). 

MC: After years of hooping with you, I could’ve sworn you’d be most compatible with one of these bad boys. 

In My Feelings, But I Wouldn’t Listen to That Drake Song

A Brief Summary of Why Our Mood Dictates the Music We Listen To – Written by Morgan Vo:

To quote my thirteen year old niece, “Morgan, if you listened to less sad music, maybe you wouldn’t be so sad all the time.” Wow, I did not think I would get straight up roasted by a teenager like this, but this idea got me thinking. When she said this, I was in a mood and all I wanted to do was sulk, but why wouldn’t I want my music to uplift me in a time where I was feeling so low? I have talked to some friends and family about this phenomena and this happens to be the case for them as well. Why continue to listen to sad music when feeling so somber?

The answer? All about validation, baby.

People like to listen to music that is congruent to their current life and situations. The lyrics and tempo all factor into how a song sounds, therefore when you listen to songs that fit your mood, you often feel like the artist or another person understands what you’re going through and that you’re not alone. An article published by Amber Hoffe from West Virginia University states that the song you are listening to acts like “an understanding, empathic friend [and] provides you a space to overcome the challenges you are facing.” The purpose of listening to sad music is not to prolong these melancholy feelings, but to eventually conquer them. Your feelings appear to be validated or more at ease when the song matches your emotions, and thus can facilitate a clearer mind.  

In my opinion, when I’m in a sad boy mood, it’s hard for me to enjoy something that sounds the opposite to how I’m feeling. I’m much more inclined to dance around to a more upbeat song like “Tongue Tied” by Grouplove when I’m feeling happy and content rather than when I’m moping and unhappy. And to be honest, there’s something cathartic about laying on the floor just listening to sad music when I’m sad. I’m not trying to imply this is the case for everyone. 

With that being said, listening to music that sounds like the opposite to your feelings can be used to try and boost your mood. Hoffer mentioned a study from Knox College and University of Missouri that explained “you can improve your mood by listening to more upbeat music and that [this method is] more successful when you also have the intention to be happier.” 

So, when you find yourself in a bad mood and want to feel better, get yourself a playlist that radiates good vibes and get to listening. Or if you’re in a bad mood and want to wallow in it a little longer, that is ok too! Get yourself a sad boy playlist and just let it out dude. Everyone experiences and handles their feelings in their own personal way.I wanted to explore and discuss the reasons behind it. I made two playlists to help you in whichever coping mechanism you choose, hope that it helps!




Hoffer, Amber. “How Music Affects Your Mood.” Carruth Center | West Virginia University, 5 Mar. 2019,

Jarrett, Christian. “Why Do People With Depression Like Listening To Sad Music?” Research Digest, The British Psychological Society, 1 May 2019,

Nield, David. “Here’s Why Listening to Sad Music Makes You Feel Better.” ScienceAlert, 15 July 2016,

Cannabis Cuts Vol. 2 – Reefer-Friendly Raps

Welcome back for the second installment of our bi-weekly Cannabis Cuts playlist, a tribute and appreciation of the symbiotic relationship between music and Mary Jane. Hopefully our debut 4/20 Special got you in the holiday spirit and showed you a new artist or song or two along the way.

In Volume Two, we’ve decided to dedicate this entire installment to hip-hop tracks worthy of your next joint, spliff, blunt, bong-rip or whatever your prefered method of consumption may be. Blunt-worthy bars and blunt-worthy beats were the only criteria for these selections, and with that in mind we generated 20 of our hand-picked, road-tested, hip-hop toke favorites and written about why we think they’re top notch candidates to lift you to higher spirits:

“Be (Intro),” Be, Common (2005)

KG: “Common… okay I’ve seen him on TV and a few movies before (Haha he is totally in Date Night), but wasn’t he a rapper?” This was the first thought that crossed my mind when I was being introduced to Common’s 2005 comeback album, Be. And while it was apparent that I had shamelessly ignored the entire first half of his discography, I quickly learned that Common has the musical chops to brush away any stigma toward his hip hop career. “Be (Intro),” a Kanye West (Voldemort) production, displays many of He Who Must Not Be Named’s signature beat-making techniques and is about as good of an opening track to an album as possible. The beat is minimalistic while retaining a surprisingly lush sound, notably when the buzzy synthesizer riffs over a powerful string sample. Common enters half-way through the song and proceeds to spit a minute straight of conscious rap bars that are quick and complex off the tongue. All together, it creates a glorious harmony between two of Chicago’s finest. 

MC: Yes, this whole album is a masterpiece…but it only hints at the game-changing potential Common would let run rampant at the introductions for this year’s NBA All-Star Game. This is the man who would go on to give us instant-classic, generation-defining bars like, “Making his second all-star appearance / He runs the team like a mogul / From the Los Angeles Lakers / The coach, Frank Vogel,” and “A four-time all-star / He handles the rock like Gibraltar / From the Boston Celtics / Give it up for Kemba Walker.”

“LIFE,” CARE FOR ME, Saba (2018)

KG: Staying in Chi’ town, Saba burst onto the scene in 2013 after appearing on Chance the Rapper’s classic Acid Rap mixtape. A few collaborative mixtapes and a debut album later, Saba released his sophomore effort CARE FOR ME to widespread critical acclaim. In simple terms, Saba is one of the best narrative rappers in the game right now. He enunciates his lyrics incredibly well for an artist who raps so quickly, which make his often dark personal stories easy to follow along to. “LIFE” is no exception to these traits, a hard and booming track that gives a brief peek into some of the hardships Saba has faced. Juxtaposed with the previous track from older Chicago legends, it’s nice to see the future of Chicago hip-hop in great hands.

“Free Lunch,” The Sun’s Tirade, Isaiah Rashad (2016)

MC: Believe it or not, the outrageously smooth beat for this track crafted by producer Cam O’bi was originally rejected by J. Cole for his 4 Your Eyez Only album – presumably because he couldn’t envision himself rapping about doing laundry over it. Fortunately for us, Isaiah Rashad picked it up for the lead single for his excellent debut album. Rashad’s laid-back cadence on these verses melds seamlessly with the jazzy production and resulted in one of my favorite tracks of 2016, which was an unusually deep year for the genre. Last week, the Tennessee rapper dropped “Why Worry,” his first new track since 2016 and hopefully an indication that his sophomore album is coming soon. 

KG: Top Dawg Entertainment power ranking of label artists off the dome: 1. Kendrick Lamar, 2. Schoolboy Q, 3. SZA, 4. Isaiah Rashad, 5. Jay Rock, 6. Ab-Soul, 7. I can’t remember any more.

“Shame,” Piñata, Freddie Gibbs & Madlib (2014)

MC: Listening to Freddie Gibbs boast about his sex life might not be traditionally what you choose to spark up to (or maybe it is, no judgement here), but this Madlib beat affirms, and then reaffirms, and then reaffirms again that his status as an all-time great producer is nothing but deserved. Driven by an early-70s Manhattans soul sample, the production is as lush as can be and mixed so well that it’s tough to tell where the samples end and the BJ the Chicago Kid hooks begin. Freddie, technically solid as always, holds court about his love life with his classic gruffness, humor, and bravado.

“Millenium,” ATLiens, OutKast (1996)

MC: The production on this is downright spacey and psychedelic, and Andre 3000 and Big Boi come through with a packed three minutes of creative imagery, social commentary, and the kind of wordplay that secured their legacy as all-time greats. It also happens to feature an unorthodoxly catchy chorus that’s the verbal equivalent of a very cozy case of couch lock. 

“Guillotine (Swordz),” Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Raekwon (1995)

KG: Raekwon’s debut solo album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, is the third greatest hip-hop album of all time. There, I said it. And while I have your attention, I will stand on my Google Docs sized soapbox and tell you that it is better than anything the Wu-Tang Clan (group) ever put out. Why am I making these brave, courageous takes? This is showbiz, baby. The beauty of any solo album from a Wu-Tang Clan member (Give Liquid Swords by GZA a peek too) is the, without a doubt, inclusion of a track that features verses from multiple other Wu-Tang members. For Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, this is that track. Inspectah Deck, Ghostface, and GZA all join Raekwon on a bouncy New York beat, and spit some of the best consecutive sets of bars you will ever hear.

MC: Stopping by to remind readers that the views of the Kevin Gordon Hot-Take Machine do not necessarily encompass the views of Culture Blender as a whole. Despite Raekwon’s debut being an all-time rap classic, 36 Chambers is the premier Wu album.

“Christ Conscious,” B4.DA.$$, Joey Bada$$ (2015)

MC: Peak no-bullshit East Coast hip-hop. The beat sounds timeless and Joey fires off on all cylinders with some of the hardest delivery of his career. He also sneaks in the phrase “lyrical fajitas,” which, for me, single-handedly puts him in the rap Pantheon. 

KG: In the throes of my Sophomore year of high school, I attended a mini-festival in Chula Vista, California headlined by some of the iconic names in hip-hop history: Wiz Khalifa, B.O.B. (nothin on yoouuuu baby), and a Trinidad James during the peak of his power. At the very bottom of the lineup card was a young rapper named Joey Bada$$. Joey ended up no-showing his 6:30pm set, which wasn’t yet disappointing because I didn’t know who he was at the time, but I DID end up smoking weed for the first time in my life that night. I guess all roads do lead to Rome.

“Off Deez,” DiCaprio 2, JID (2018)

KG: JID wears his influences on his sleeve about as hard as Greta Van Fleet attempts to masquerade as a Led Zep tribute band. But the difference is, JID’s creativity shines through and adds enough flair to distinguish himself from his Kendrick Lamar sounding style. Also, don’t let my dear friend Max scare you away from the J. Cole experience. While he has his moments (extended moments) of corniness, this track really shows off his versatile flow.

“Wesley’s Theory,” To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick Lamar (2015)

KG: My favorite song on Kendrick Lamar’s masterpiece, To Pimp a Butterfly, is a certified head bopper no matter the context you are listening to it in. In a car with your friends? Head bop. Curled up in bed next to your dog? Head bop. Exhausting your mind and body to the point of constant existential dread, while you slave away as a member of the proletariat with no hope for a more equitable future due to the generational greed of capitalist scum such as Exxon Mobil, Nestle, and Elon Musk? Head bop. 

MC: Thundercat and George Clinton featuring on a Flying Lotus-produced Kendrick track is the stuff of my dreams and somehow this manages to live up those lofty expectations. 

“It Was a Good Day,” The Predator, Ice Cube (1992)

MC: It’s year 2028, Supreme Leader Trump has just been elected to his fourth term as US President. Meanwhile, in the country of California, the Bear Republic flag flies triumphantly basking in the golden hour’s glow as the day draws to a close. The voices of schoolchildren ring out loud and bright-eyed about how “the Lakers beat the Supersonics,” and the time Ice Cube “fucked around and got a triple double” in a game of pick-up hoops (the proto-Westbrook, if you will). The comforting lights of the Goodyear Blimp glisten over the Southern California skyline spelling out “Ice Cube’s a pimp.” The sun settles below the horizon, marking the end of another good day. End scene.

KG: 2028 Trump gonna look exactly like Palpatine from episode 9. Good thing the Rey of our timeline, AOC, is gonna kick his ass. 

“Heat,” Get Rich or Die Tryin’, 50 Cent (2003)

KG: As Gangsta Rap descended from its peak of greatness in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, 50 Cent decided to sneak in at the very last second of relevance and drop an album that would surpass many of his contemporaries in staying power. Get Rich or Die Tryin’ blends 50’s unique voice and cockiness to the point of outright narcissism bars, with gritty East Coast production to create the perfect send off to classic Gangsta Rap. This song specifically brings the HEAT you’ll need to enjoy a casual spliff. The beat is literally the noise a gun makes when cocking it back, and gunshots… with some kick drums added in for good measure. 

“Feel So Good,” Harlem World, Mase (1997)

KG: This song is 100% perfect. You can’t convince me any changes to “Feel So Good” would make it better. Zilch. Nada. Bye. Listening to “Feel So Good” once is the musical equivalent to a person’s first interaction with a George Foreman grill. I didn’t think life could possibly get this great, is there any going back from here? The answer is no. Dance your booty off to this intoxicating track and forget about the days when grill-less burgers needed to be cooked in a pan… savages. 

MC: If you can’t vibe to this track I don’t know if I can trust you as a person.

“Gimme Your’s,” Doe or Die, AZ (1995)

KG: AZ is the owner of the boyish voice that surprisingly keeps up with Nas lyrically on “Life’s a Bitch,” from Nas debut album Illmatic. And if, like me, you wondered what else this guy might have made, then you have come to the right spot. “Gimme Your’s” is a hypnotic dive into New York’s boroughs that suck the listener in with spacey piano lines and strong drums. These sounds are the perfect complement to AZ’s youthful voice, which he equips to perfection in creating this hazy gem of a toke track.

“Numbers on the Boards,” My Name Is My Name,” Pusha T (2013)

KG: He Who Must Not Be Named is a really really good producer. “Numbers on the Boards” was being made right as he was in the middle of his industrial rap phase (think Yeezus) and the shaky sample that forms the heart of this beat is exactly that. It sounds so rigid and harsh that you could never imagine it to fit well in a song, but blended with Pusha T’s kingpin flow makes it feel just right. Shout out to Push for making me jump out of my chair for every “YEUUGGH” he growls. 

MC: You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in history who has found more creative ways to say they’ve dealt coke, Push’s wordplay is at its finest on this left-field banger.

“Fruits of the Spirit,” A Written Testimony, Jay Electronica (2020)

MC: After over a decade of anticipation, this was the year the world finally got Jay Electronica’s debut album. The album didn’t disappoint, and featured him and Jay-Z going back and forth on nearly every track. While this cut lacks a Jay-Z feature, it’s a highly-enjoyable minute and a half of Jay Electronica weaving references about the Avengers, Vince Staples, and Wimbledon into social commentary on ICE, Palestine, and Flint all over a great No I.D. beat. 

“Rhymes Like Dimes,” Operation: Doomsday, MF Doom (1999)

KG: No lie, I heard this song at a Chipotle once and I lost my shit. MF Doom, the supervillain, caught in public at an establishment as miscellaneous as a Chiptole? I guess that’s just how it goes, but this song is as cool as a cucumber. A jazzy beat that would be played on repeat without any vocals is brought to life with MF Doom’s meticulous word play and unmatched ability to rhyme. 

MC: Nothing says “give our new Queso Blanco a try,” like a classic MF Doom bop at Chipotle.

“The Hop,” Beats, Rhymes & Life, A Tribe Called Quest (1996)

MC: In 1996, Q-Tip and Phife Dawg created this undeniably cool track which ranks up there with some of Tribe’s best work. Like many songs from the group, its lyrics discuss racism, police brutality, poverty and other socially conscious themes. It features one of Phife’s finest verses, yet its greatest legacy may lie in how it created a bedrock for hip-hop instructional dance tracks to grow and evolve, culminating Drake’s 2020 artistic pinnacle, “Toosie Slide.”

“Potato Salad,” Potato Salad – Single, Tyler, the Creator & A$AP Rocky (2018)

MC: This song feels like the sonic equivalent to shooting the shit and passing a joint back and forth with a good friend. In verses that maintain the loose and off the cuff feel of a freestyle, Tyler and Rocky sound laid-back and conversational while quipping about Cole Sprouse, Yao Ming, mumble rap and differentiating between a purse and a satchel – all over a vintage Kanye beat. Rocky seems to benefit the most from stepping away from the self-seriousness of his solo work and comes through with one of my favorite verses he’s ever put to tape. It’s goofy, it’s relaxed, and it’s got a crisp beat with rhymes to match – what more do you need?

KG: There have been rumors for years about Rocky and Tyler collaborating on an album, and if this is any indication of how awesome that would be, then I’m completely here for it. 

“The Joy,” Watch The Throne (Deluxe), Jay-Z & Kanye West (2011)

MC: Like my writing partner Kevin, I’m participating in a bit of a self-imposed boycott of one of my all-time favorite artists, Mr. West, due to…well…due to most everything he’s said over the last couple years. However, I’ve gotta exploit the “Jay-Z-has-first-billing” loophole on this track because it’s too damn smooth to not include. Originally released as a part of Kanye’s G.O.O.D. Friday’s series, both MCs are in fine form on this cut with unusually relaxed and reminiscent verses. The real star of the show, however, is Curtis Mayfield’s “The Makings of You,” which Pete Rock samples so liberally that the late, great Curtis is given a feature on the track. 

KG: THE MORE YOU SAY HIS NAME, THE MORE POWER YOU GIVE HIM. But while we are here, let’s bask in the glory of Curtis Mayfield’s years of incredible work. 

“Knight,” Doris, Earl Sweatshirt (2013)

MC: Really any track off Earl’s classic debut album would have fit snugly into this playlist with their hazy, creative productions and the nineteen-year-old Earl’s dense rhyme schemes, outrageously-good wordplay, and stoned worldview. The pitched down voices and tempo changes make it a hell of a closer for that album, so why not make it a closer here. 

See What We’re Hearing: Dr. Dre, The Strokes, and More

Here at Culture Blender we’re big proponents of the album format. Streaming has made it easy to pick and choose tracks for playlists and we’re all for it, but at the end of the day each artist sequenced those tracks and put them out together as an album to create a cohesive artistic statement – well maybe not every artist (*cough* Drake *cough* Migos).

The bottom line is the album is typically a thoughtfully curated experience, much like a novel or a movie, and we believe a lot of those experiences are worth sharing. Here’s some of our favorite albums that we’ve had in rotation lately:

Max’s Picks:

Heaven to a Tortured Mind – Yves Tumor (2020)

Who said the rock album was dead? After their highly acclaimed 2018 album Safe in the Hands of Love, genre-bending experimental artist Yves Tumor has delivered the most straightforward rock album of their career. Granted, straightforward is all relative here, but Yves Tumor melds their experimental tendencies with glam rock, Britpop, and a little bit of funk. Yves Tumor gives the type of charismatic and innuendo-laced vocal performance that answers the question of what a Prince album might have sounded like in the year 2020. It’s got searing guitar solos, punchy riffs and choruses, and extended moments of psychedelic bliss. This is one of the most adventurous, fresh and enjoyable “rock” albums I’ve heard in awhile.

Highlight Tracks: “A Greater Love,” “Gospel for a New Century,” “Kerosene!”

For Fans Of: Blood Orange, Prince, Blur

Pray for Paris – Westside Gunn (2020)

In his third studio album, Buffalo rapper Westside Gunn finds the paradoxical sweet spot between the gritty 90’s East Coast sound and high-concept luxury rap on one of one of my favorite rap releases of 2020 so far. Westside Gunn expertly navigates between wordplay-rich drug raps and fashion raps with a strong cast of guest features including fellow Griselda members Conway the Machine and Benny the Butcher, along with verses from Tyler, the Creator, Freddie Gibbs, Joey Bada$$ and Boldy James. The album’s beats, which feature production from The Alchemist and Tyler, the Creator, are sparse and driven by well-picked, dusty-sounding samples that spotlight the rapping on display and give the album an old-school feel.

Highlight Tracks: “$500 Ounces,” “George Bondo,” “Versace” 

For Fans Of: Mobb Deep, Pusha T, Joey Bada$$

Suddenly – Caribou (2020) 

The Caribou name has just about become synonymous with quality assurance and Dan Snaith’s fifth album under that moniker is no exception. The Canadian multi-instrumentalist and producer has created an electronic pop album overflowing with more sounds and ideas than most artists know what to do with. One moment Snaith is twisting ambient piano ballads into hip-hop driven grooves on “Sunny’s Time,” and the next he’s zeroing in on bright-eyed, festival-ready dance tracks like “Never Come Back.” Snaith’s tender vocals are the great unifier of all these seemingly disparate sounds, adding additional layers of melody and emotion on top of productions that are already rich with both of those qualities. This one’s bound to get the indie heads and the club kids all under one tent raving come festival season, whenever that may be. 

Highlight Tracks: “Never Come Back,” “Home,” “Like I Loved You”

For Fans Of: Four Tet, Hot Chip, Mount Kimbie

Mr. Tambourine Man – The Byrds (1965)

Apart from identifying my inability to care about the celebrity or musicality of Jakob Dylan, one of my biggest takeaways from watching Echo in the Canyon was how damn good and influential the Byrds were as a group. Every jangly indie guitar riff you’ve ever heard from The Smiths to Mac DeMarco can be traced back to the ringing tone of guitarist Jim McGuinn’s leads on this album. While The Byrds rarely get mentioned in the same breath as The Beatles, Dylan Sr., or The Beach Boys, this album’s influence has permeated modern music on a level that deserves the same level of acclaim as albums from those heavyweights. I recently did a deep dive into their discography, which is full of some of the most important folk rock, psychedelic rock, and country rock recordings of all-time, but most frequently I found myself returning to their debut. One of the most fully-formed debut’s of all-time, this album is loaded with their trademark sound of folk filtered through head-bobbing electric tones and sunny California harmonies. Despite the album celebrating its 55th birthday this June, it’s continued relevance is a testament to the staying power of a well-written tune and this album is stacked full of them. 

Highlight Tracks: “I’ll Feel a Whole Lot Better,” “Here Without You,” “I Knew I’d Want You”

For Fans Of: The Zombies, Crosy, Stills, & Nash, Buffalo Springfield

The Basement Tapes – Bob Dylan & The Band (1975)

In July 1966, right in the midst of a creative tear that involved Dylan redefining American popular music in his image several times over, he suffered a motorcycle crash that subsequently halted his grueling touring schedule and allowed him to retreat from the public eye for the first time in years. Over the course of 1967 while recovering in his home in Woodstock, NY, Dylan and his backing band, The Hawks (later known as The Band), jammed and recorded hundreds of demos that were the stuff of legends and bootlegs until this 1975 release of these tracks from those sessions. At its most basic level, the album is just six musicians with a strong reverence for traditional American music trading songs. For Dylan enthusiasts, it’s the missing link between the “thin, wild mercury sound” of Blonde on Blonde and the more understated, rootsy change of pace that was John Wesley Harding. These songs manage to walk the line between traditional, strange, and frequently funny in a way that only Dylan could navigate. It’s some of the most downright American sounding music you’ll ever hear, ironically made by a cast of musicians that was four-sixths Canadian. 

Highlight Tracks: “Bessie Smith,” “Nothing Was Delivered,” “Open the Door, Homer”

For Fans Of: Bob Dylan, The Band, civil war reenactments

KDogg’s Picks:

Fun House – The Stooges (1970)

Iggy and The Stooges are as animated of a band as I’ve ever heard. Every lyric, and gut-wrenching scream, Iggy Pop belts is filled to the brim with enough passion and bravado to rival a high school football team’s locker room. And while Pop is surely the star of the show, the other Stooges members more than carry their weight. Hints of the future sounds of punk rock are scattered throughout Fun House, notably through the piercing lead guitar that dances over every track, and forceful drums driving each song forward. Also, who doesn’t love when a saxophone gets involved? “Dirt” is my favorite cut on the album, an epic that combines the sugar (Iggy Pop’s sultry voice), spice (wicked blues guitar solos), and everything nice (a kickass attitude) that make the album great. The Stooges’ raw power, unbridled energy, and authentic sound will leave you head-banging all day long. 

Highlight Tracks: “Down on the Street,” “Dirt,” “Fun House”

For Fans Of: The Clash, The Velvet Underground, people who put pre-workout in their coffee

Surfer Rosa – Pixies (1988)

In the same vein as The Stooges, Pixies evoke overwhelming charm through their sheer ability to make music that is lively and original. Surfer Rosa, their debut album, sounds like Pixies gathered all the pieces of rock music you already loved into a large box, furiously shook that box, and dumped the contents on the ground in a new design that is oh so fresh. Hard rock, punk, surf rock, tongue-in-cheek banter, it’s all here. Surfer Rosa is jarring in the absolute best way possible, and Pixies’ quiet-to-loud brand of music makes every track a sine wave of sound that remains constantly compelling. “Bone Machine,” the album’s intro, encapsulates that perfectly, maintaining a balance between booming guitar and vocals, which can be eardrum rattling at times, and a gentle chorus that reels the listener back in. Pixies’ sound and style became very influential with many awesome groups coming out of the Alt-Rock bubble, including Radiohead and Nirvana, only furthering the evidence of their greatness. 

Highlight Tracks: “Break My Body,” “River Euphrates,” “Where Is My Mind,” “Oh My Golly”

For Fans Of: Nirvana, Radiohead, Weezer, Pavement, flannel lovers everywhere

The Chronic – Dr. Dre (1992)

4/20/20 was an earth shattering day in world history. Not only was the monumental  (revolutionary, some would say) Cannabis Cuts Vol. 1 released on that day, but The Chronic, Dr. Dre’s greatest contribution to hip-hop, was also made available on Spotify for the first time in years. And what a day it was. If you are a Spotify user like me, (not an uncultured, sadistic Apple Music user) then you jumped at the opportunity to revisit this crown jewel of the G-Funk era. The Chronic’s production is infectious, largely in part to Dr. Dre’s trademark whiny synth and funky bass lines plucked from 70’s funk samples. It checks all of the boxes for the classic “West Coast” hip hop sound. I think it’s a bit forgotten how dope an MC Dr. Dre is. He oozes swag whenever his deep voice hops on the mic, reminding me of a constant impression of Damian Lillard’s swaggy series ending shot over Paul George (fuck Paul George). This album also served as the debut showcase for a 19-year old Snoop Dogg, who is as clever and raunchy as ever. This is best exemplified on “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang,” where Dre and Snoop effortlessly crisscross over the beat with slick rhymes and impeccable timing. The Chronic is a timeless classic and the moment you have the chance to listen to it, you should. 

Highlight Tracks: “Let Me Ride,” “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang,” “Stranded on Death Row”

For Fans Of: Snoop Dogg, NWA, Drinking 40’s in the backyard

The New Abnormal – The Strokes (2020)

After a lackluster decade of records that made fans feel one giant ball of  “meh” everytime they came out, The New Abnormal represents a triumphant return to form for Julian Casablancas and the gang. One thing that makes this record stand out to me is how well all the pieces of the band fit together to create a tight, cohesive sound. Whether it’s the sharp interplay between rhythm and lead guitar on “The Adults Are Talking” (top 10 Strokes song for sure), Julian’s dynamic vocal range on “Selfless,” or the melancholy synths on “At The Door,” The Strokes sound like a band who have finally found their matured identity. And to top it all off, Rick Rubin produced the project! Hopefully we continue to see this excellence in future Strokes releases, but, as for now, I’m happy to be living in the timeline where The Strokes were back.

Highlight Tracks: “The Adults Are Talking,” “Brooklyn Bridge To Chorus,” “At The Door”

For Fans Of: Arctic Monkeys, Phoenix, The Voidz

Cannabis Cuts Vol. 1 – The 4/20 Special

We’re excited to get the Culture Blender site off the ground and bring you content about the music that enriches our lives. Hopefully this offers an outlet for you to find something that enriches your life as well.

We figured in honor of the high holiday, today would be no better time than to introduce our debut installment of our bi-weekly Cannabis Cuts playlist because few things are quite as symbiotic as music and Mary Jane. We’ve selected 20 of our hand-picked, road-tested, toke favorites and written about why we think they’re top notch candidates to lift you to higher spirits:

“Wakin on a Pretty Day,” Wakin on a Pretty Daze, Kurt Vile

MC: My personal favorite track by indie rock’s current king of sleepy, stoned wisdom feels like one of the shortest nearly ten-minute tracks I’ve ever laid ears on. This psychedelic-folk guitar epic breezes through its lengthy run-time and the title is incredibly on-point as the perfect track to bask in the sunshine to along with good company and a good spliff. 

“JBS,” Star Stuff, Chaz Bundick Meets the Mattson 2

MC: This absolute psych nugget off 2017’s overlooked collaboration between Chaz Bundick (Toro Y Moi) and jazz duo The Mattson 2 is loaded with guitar tones and riffs that feel like you’re watching a desert sunrise – not a bad way to do some mental traveling while sheltering in place. Also the Mattson 2 hail from Cardiff, so big shout out to them for representing San Diego music in a way that shows we have more to offer than white guys who play reggae! 

KG: The ending of “JBS” explodes out of a brief psychedelic respite, giving us a faint impression of what the Beatles might have sounded like if they time travelled to modern psychedelia. 

“Summertime,” Begin Here, The Zombies

KG: “It’s summertime/And the living is easy”, one of the smoothest lines in music history, was popularized in the 90’s by Sublime. But this rendition offers its own summer motif, pairing Colin Blunstone’s haunting voice with a sauntering keyboard that leaves listeners calm as could be. Enjoy this toke track on a sunny porch, and let the living be easy. 

MC: Damn…I thought Lana Del Rey invented that line. 

“Liquid Sunshine,” Kpm 1000 Series: Voices in Harmony, John Cameron

MC: This song is proof that occasionally Spotify’s Discover Weekly can work a little bit of crate-digging magic for you. Written by composer, John Cameron, who worked primarily in scoring film and TV, this three-minute instrumental is as smooth as they come. Kick your feet up, relax and enjoy some peak psychedelic lounge music. 

“High Time,” Workingman’s Dead, Grateful Dead

KG: Haha! You actually thought we were gonna make a 420 playlist without any Dead songs. That would be like leaving Joe Pesci out of an Italian mob movie… you just don’t do it, you fuckin’ jackass. 

“Desert Raven,” Gentle Spirit, Jonathan Wilson 

MC: Had the pleasure of discovering this modern flag-bearer for the Laurel Canyon sound when he played this song while opening up for Tame Impala who were touring behind Lonerism back in 2013. Then, I only knew him as “the guy who opened up for Tame and sounded like jam-band Tom Petty,” but ever since, he’s gone on to produce two Father John Misty albums, play the role of David Gilmour in Roger Waters’ Us + Them Tour, and maintain a reputation as one of LA’s premier musicians. How’s that for a resume?

KG: Stellar resume, someone find this man on LinkedIn.

“Don’t Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder),” Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys

KG: Fun fact: besides Brian Wilson, no other Beach Boys’ member worked on this song. It is a tremendous composition, highlighted by a gorgeous string section, that lulls you into a cloudy haze of stoner’s paradise. Wilson’s falsetto is incredible. And to think, somehow, somewhere, Mike Love is probably trying to find a way to take credit for this song! (We haven’t forgotten Kokomo, Mike).

“Life’s a Bitch (feat. AZ & Olu Dara),” Illmatic, Nas

KG: Nas released the greatest hip hop album ever at 21 years old. I transferred out of a community college at 21 years old. “Life’s a bitch and then you die, that’s why we get high/’Cause you never know when you’re gonna go.” Hey, let me get a hit of that.

“SpottieOttieDopaliscious,” Aquemini, OutKast

MC: Those horns, those horns, my goodness those horns. I’d be hard-pressed to find a more triumphant sound than those horns emerging out of this night-ride through Atlanta brought to you by Big Boi and Andre 3000. The dubby bassline and the laid-back, psych-funk production make for a top tier track to roll the windows down to. This is peak storytelling and peak production by the greatest rap duo of all-time.

KG: This song is the epitome of cool. Didn’t think you would do my guys Macklemore & Ryan Lewis dirty like that though.

“Lady and Man,” Con Todo El Mundo, Khruangbin

KG: The amount of different ways I’ve heard Khruangbin pronounced is actually astonishing. It’s like a birthmark, everyone has their own unique version. I’ve probably botched it a thousand times. Alas, the alternating surf-y guitar riff and mesmerizing bassline on this track will be stuck in your head for days to come. 

MC: Incredible track by Krangybangy.

“I’m Her Daddy,” Just As I Am, Bill Withers

MC: Spark one up for the late, great Bill Withers with this deeper cut from his debut album. The spacious percussion, jazz influenced guitar, and smooth vocal delivery make for an absolute groover. 

KG: Losing Bill Withers hurt. Not many voices have been able to evoke such a wide range of emotion. Did you know that “Ain’t No Sunshine” was his debut track? Oops, here is one of the greatest songs ever written. This dude was TALENTED from the get go. Rest easy, Bill!

“If You Don’t Know Now, You Never Will,” Raw Honey, Drugdealer

MC: This slab of rose-tinted, 70’s soft-rock perfection comes from one of the most consistent songwriting projects of the last five years. True to Michael Collins’ project’s namesake, these songs sound like they were written by a guy who dealt weed to Carole King and Harry Nilsson in exchange for pop songwriting secrets. 

“Down by the Seaside,” Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin

MC: Ever wondered what a Neil Young song would sound like done by Led Zeppelin? Probably not, but this track from their phenomenal double-album Physical Graffiti was written with Young’s influence in mind. A song about the simple joys and peace of mind of being next to the ocean, this makes for one of Zeppelin’s more calming and melodic tracks. Coupled with the underwater-sounding tremolo effect on Page’s guitar, this is some tasty ear candy for the stoned soul. 

“Rolling Stoned,” Sketches of Brunswick East, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard / Mild High Club

MC: Rolling STONED, Mild HIGH club…is this too on the nose? Either way this little ditty features two modern favorites of the psychedelic world teaming up for a meandering and trippy interlude.

“Farewell American Primitive,” Mature Themes, Ariel Pink

KG: Ariel Pink makes very eclectic music. Instrumentation, lyrics, vibe. There is a 15 second interlude in the middle of this song that presents itself as the perfect opportunity to pack your bowl to the brim, in preparation for the ripper of a guitar line that finds its way nestled on the other side.

“I’m Glad,” Safe as Milk, Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

KG: Captain Beefheart pulls at the heartstrings. He’s glad about the good times, and you should be too. Enjoy a wonderful, stoney, 4/20 wherever you are and remember that the Magic Band will always have your back.

MC: This one’s an absolute belter. Who ever thought a dude named Captain Beefheart would have so much soul?

“Speaking Gently,” IV, BADBADNOTGOOD

KG: Jazz saxophone. Psychedelic keyboards. Hip-Hop drums. What do you know, this song is awesome! Toss this bad boy on once the sun goes down. Take a rip, close your eyes, and envision yourself gently drifting into a vibrant cavern of kaleidoscope colors. Pretty nice, huh?

“A Greater Love,” Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor

MC: Easily the most recently released track on this playlist, this track off Yves Tumor’s fantastic new album drifts along coated in a funk and psychedelic sound that sounds like Yves has been possessed by the spirit of Prince. If you dig this track, I’d highly recommend giving the full album a go. 

“Cadet Limbo,” The Ooz, King Krule

KG: Am I floating through space? Is that Princess Leia? Hey look, it’s my alien friend, King Krule! This soundscape is a brooding daydream through the cosmos, and Krule’s muffled growl is your pilot. Max and I have been in love with the ghostly keyboard that enters at 2:52 since the first time we heard it. And by the way, how the hell did Princess Leia survive floating through space?

MC: As bizarre as it may sound, following Archie Marshall’s lead to a hazy, grimy, and dank space saloon that exists in the far corners of your mind is an experience that you’ll want to revisit over and over again. 

“On the Beach,” On the Beach, Neil Young

KG: One of Neil Young’s many epics, “On the Beach” yearns to be enjoyed at its namesake; deeply snuggled in a Tommy Bahama beach chair, shady floral umbrella blocking the sun, baseball-bat joint in hand. Socially distanced, of course.